NASCAR Nextel Cup Series driver Jeremy Mayfield, who has struggled to qualify for races this season, will not return to Bill Davis Racing next year, the team announced Tuesday. A replacement driver has not been named.
Mayfield, who joined BDR after a contentious divorce from Evernham Motorsports, has struggled this season. His No. 36 Toyota Camry team has qualified for only eight of 21 races.
Because he was driving for a new team, Mayfield did not have a guaranteed starting spot in the first five races because the team was outside the top 35 in owner points. He failed to qualify for the first four races of the season and never did crack the top 35.
The team also failed to build continuity or momentum, going through several crew chief changes in an attempt to find the right chemistry.
Team owner Bill Davis said Mayfield had "done all we asked of him and more' as the team took on the challenge of Toyota's first season in the Nextel Cup series and adjusting to the Car of Tomorrow template.
But Davis still decided to make a change.
"We have had great support from Toyota on this endeavor, but it takes more than just manufacturer support to compete on this level," Davis said. "It takes a tremendous amount of additional sponsorship support that just did not materialize as we had anticipated."
"I've been in this sport long enough to know that it takes time to bring a brand new car up to speed in what is probably the most competitive racing series in the world," Mayfield said in the team's news release. "When I made the decision to move here to BDR with an untested car and a sponsor completely unfamiliar with NASCAR, I knew it would be somewhat of a gamble. I believed then, and I believe now, that Toyota has a bright future in the Cup aeries and is making progress every weekend.
"But I think I have delivered what I can to the effort and looking at the total picture -- what's best for me, what's best for the team -- I believe this is the right time for me to consider other opportunities."
Mayfield, 38, has five career wins, 48 career top-5 finishes and
96 top-10s. His last win was Aug. 21, 2005 at Michigan International Speedway.
In 2005 Mayfield had four top-5 finishes and nine top-10s, finishing the season ninth overall in the series points standings. But he had no Top-10 finishes in 2006 and qualified for 22 of 36 races, finishing 39th overall.
Mayfield, the 1993 ARCA Rookie of the Year, made his NASCAR debut on Oct. 10, 1993, finishing 29th in the Mello Yello 500 at what was then known as Charlotte Motor Speedway.